Ghana Begins Drone Delivery to Supplement Health Services

The New Tafo Government Hospital is the first in Ghana to sign up to the government’s new medical drone delivery program which hopes to use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver medical products to hard to reach communities in a timely manner. The medical drone program was officially launched this week by Ghana’s vice president Mahamudu Bawumia, who first made the announcement a year ago.  Ghana Health Service is working with Zipline, the drone company best known for starting blood delivery services in Rwanda. Ghana’s health policymakers hope faster drop-offs will improve its health outcomes including reducing its maternal and infant mortality rates. According to the World Health Organization, “severe bleeding during delivery or after childbirth is the commonest cause of maternal mortality and contributes to around 34% of maternal deaths in Africa.” The timely access to safe blood could save many lives. The launch at Zipline’s Omenako center outside of the capital Accra is the first of four centers it hopes to complete by the end of 2019. The drones will be able to travel to 500 health facilities within an 80-kilometer-range from the Omenako center which is stocked with emergency medicines, vaccines, blood and blood products. The delivery program is also hoped will help reduce the incidence of wastage of medical products, a result of overstocking at hospitals.


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